March 24, 2005 6:11 p.m.

I’ve found out first hand what it’s like to miss holidays at home. I’ve been away on assignment too many Thanksgivings and New Years to count. I’ve observed Chanukah in Afghanistan and my birthday in Baghdad, among other places, and spent many other special days in countries where the locals often care little about the dates.

This can be terribly depressing. Occasions that are normally happy celebrations involving family and friends become lonely, solitary affairs, without the food, gifts, fanfare, and companionship.

I’m not looking for sympathy. My job takes me to interesting and exciting locales, and I have plenty of time to celebrate when I get home. But I do feel bad for our troops overseas, many of whom have probably missed several holidays already, and could spend this Easter battling sandstorms and insurgents instead of going to church and enjoying a nice meal and maybe an egg hunt with their loved ones.

I think it’s important we remember our men and women serving in the armed forces. Not just on Easter Sunday but every day they’re gone. Many people across the country have shown their support by sending e-mails and letters and care packages or giving assistance to family members left behind. It’s a great start.

I’ve gotten e-mails from some of those family members, who are very grateful for the support, but also a bit nervous about the reception their son or daughter will get when he or she returns from duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I understand there are people who don’t support the war, but I hope they’ll still support our troops. At the very least offering a handshake, a word of thanks, and a welcome home. The sacrifices our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have made, and continue to make, are huge. They’re risking lives and limbs, missing not just holidays but in many cases the birth of their own children. They're absent for anniversaries, weddings, and funerals, and lots of other special events many people take for granted.

So to our troops this holiday weekend I say, "Thank You." Happy Easter, and Happy Passover. Happy Valentines Day, and Merry Christmas too. And Happy Birthday, whenever it is…and many, many more.

E-mail Rick!

[Ed. note: Click the video tab in the upper right to watch Leventhal's reports.]

If you would like to be notified via e-mail when a new blog is posted, please subscribe to the FNC Update.

Rick,

Your reporting from Iraq was awe inspiring. You went in with such bravery but with such humor. I think you made me laugh as much as made me afraid. Unusual combination and that is what makes you addictive to watch. By the way, haven't seen you in a while. Please don't wear those suits. I saw you in one and I had to laugh. Just doesn't seem like you in all that stuff. Don't let anyone change you. Thanks for informing and entertaining.

— Judy

PS. you were great covering of the men in the mine. I stayed up as long as you were on.


Dear Rick,

My husband was one of the many Marine Corps reservists deployed for OIF. During the first days of the war it was you and Shepherd Smith who got me through some of the most difficult moments.

I'm glad to have this opportunity to thank you for your courage. I would also like to extend my thanks to your family for their sacrifice.

— Marina


Rick:

I can remember staying up late on the West Coast just to watch your reporting and bantering with Shep Smith. Seeing the move live and through a civilian reporter's eyes were invaluable to my understanding to what was happening over there during the initial attack on Baghdad. Thank you for the sacrifice and the willingness to place yourself in danger in order to give us the real picture.

And please know that during this time, my prayers were with you. My mom and I often talked during your reports. You became like a friend of the family during this time. Thanks again!

— Lisa


Rick,

Excellent article that reflects the thoughts and feelings of a lot of us. Appreciate your having been there and your continued efforts.

— Cliff (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Hi Rick,

I will never forget the nights my husband and I stayed up late just to hear your reports. Every night we just held our breath and prayed that you were okay. All the FOX reporters were wonderful but you found a place in our hearts. I can never tell you what it meant to me just to see and hear from our troops and all they were going through and yet doing such a great job.

Keep up the great work. We think you do a great job and look forword to hearing more reports from you soon.

— Bonne (Olive Branch, MS)